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New Orleans ex-mayor faces graft charges
January 20, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS: Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on Friday on charges that he used his office for personal gain, accepting payoffs, free trips and gratuities from contractors while the city was struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The charges against Nagin are the outgrowth of a City Hall corruption investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former city vendor.

The federal indictment accuses Nagin of accepting more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a local businessman who secured millions of dollars in city contract work after the 2005 hurricane. The businessman, Frank Fradella, pleaded guilty in June to bribery conspiracy and securities-fraud charges and has been cooperating with federal authorities.

Nagin, 56, also is charged with accepting at least $60,000 in payoffs from another businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts for architectural, engineering and management services work.

Williams, who was president of Three Fold Consultants LLC, pleaded guilty on Dec.5 to a conspiracy charge.

The indictment also accuses Nagin of getting free private jet and limousine services to New York from an unidentified businessman.

Nagin is accused of agreeing to wave tax penalties that the businessman owed to the city on a delinquent tax bill in 2006.

In 2010, Greg Meffert, a former technology official and deputy mayor under Nagin, pleaded guilty to charges he took bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering city contracts to businessman Mark St. Pierre.

Anthony Jones, who served as the city’s chief technology officer in Nagin’s administration, also pleaded guilty to taking payoffs.

Meffert cooperated with the government in its case against St. Pierre, who was convicted in May 2011 of charges that include conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.

Nagin, a former cable television executive, was a political novice before being elected to his first term as mayor in 2002, buoyed by strong support from white voters.

Associated Press

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